This is part seven of a nine-part series that will evaluate and grade the Packers drafts under GM Ted Thompson.
This will be the last draft that I will give a grade for. Up to this point, the lowest grade that I have given to a Ted Thompson draft (since 2005) has been a B-.
Here are the selections of the 2011 draft class:
1st round- Derek Sherrod/T/Mississippi State
2nd round- Randall Cobb/WR/Kentucky
3rd round- Alex Green/RB/Hawaii
4th round- Davon House/CB/New Mexico State
5th round- D.J. Williams/TE/Arkansas
6th round- Caleb Schlauderaff/G/Utah; D.J. Smith/LB/Appalachian State; Ricky Elmore/LB/Arizona
7th round- Ryan Taylor/TE/North Carolina; Lawrence Guy/DT/Arizona State
Frankly, the Derek Sherrod pick was a headscratcher to me from the start. At the time, the offensive line was the main position of need for the Packers, and this seemed like a pure “need” pick, which is uncharacteristic of Ted Thompson. Sherrod suffered a broken leg in the week 15 game at Kansas City in 2011, so it is impossible to provide a thorough evaluation of him. Historically, as we have seen from former Packers center, Mike Flanagan, it is difficult to come back quickly from a broken leg, but it is possible. Even before he broke his leg, there was skepticism about Sherrod’s ability to perform in the NFL. Sherrod needs to come back strong this year in order save his career.
The Randall Cobb pick definitely excited Packers fans. This pick was another example of Thompson’s brilliance in drafting talented wide receivers in the second and third round. At the time, the Packers already had an elite receiving corps with Driver, Jennings, Nelson, Jones, and Finley. Cobb’s versatility was viewed as a bonus, and with Driver’s age, it provided even more depth at the position. He has been a valuable player, and will continue to improve. It is a high priority for the Packers to re-sign him soon.
Next, we will look at the middle to late round picks. Alex Green looked like a good value pick, but he was injury-prone and lacked consistency. Early in his career, Davon House showed the potential to be a good press-man corner. However, his play has not lived up to that potential during the last two years. Personally, I thought the D.J. Williams pick was a steal in the fifth round. Finley was coming back from injury, so it seemed like the perfect pick. Williams played in a prolific Arkansas offense, and I thought he would be a solid receiving threat from the tight end position, but he never showcased that talent.
Unlike other Thompson drafts, there were not any gems in the sixth and seventh rounds in 2011. Many of these players experienced little playing time. The two notable contributors from these rounds were D.J. Smith and Ryan Taylor. Taylor has mainly been confined to special teams during his career in Green Bay. D.J. Smith looked like a player who had the potential to earn a starting inside linebacker spot. When he was on the field at inside linebacker, I was impressed with his quickness and physicality against the run. However, he suffered an injury and was released before the 2013 season.
This was Thompson’s worst draft up to this point. I would give the Randall Cobb pick an “A,” but this draft, as a whole, was poor. After failing to repeat as Super Bowl champions in 2011, it was evident that the pass rush needed drastic improvement. Overall, Thompson’s drafts from 2005 to 2010 were spectacular, but the 2011 draft started a negative trend.
2011 Draft Grade: D+
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